Apple continues its buying spree by acquiring eminent automatic speech recognition (ASR) company Novauris Technologies to add some speech recognition props to Siri's already extensive skill set.
Apple Inc. announced recently that it has acquired a U.K.-based software company but did not reveal the terms of its acquisition. Also the voice recognition company has maintained the secrecy by not revealing anything on their website about the acquisition.
According to reports from a Technology website, the acquisition took place sometime last year, but had not been made public. Apple’s team is said to be working on improvising Siri’s features, and re-launch the speech-based virtual assistant technology that comes pre-installed on all Apple’s mobile devices.
Novauris Technologies was a speech recognition company, a subsidiary of Dragon Systems which was one of the earliest companies to release voice dictation software. The company also developed other softwares like DragonDictate and Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Novauris's technology spans both device and server-side as well as cloud solutions for automatic speech recognition. Its apps and services support many languages and could perform tasks like searching on-device content, providing navigation instructions and exploring items in an app store. It will be interesting to see how this technology emerges and synchronizes with Apple's products.
Siri, launched in late 2011, with the iPhone 4S has been an integral part of iOS. Apple Inc. bought Siri in mid-2010. Since then Apple made some remarkable changes in Siri by giving it the power to do things like change device settings, but it looks like Apple's virtual assistant is not able to compete with Google Now on Android and Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1 in terms of functionality. A digital assistant should be able to do more than just understand a voice command and reply with cool one-liners. The software also needs to learn to operate according to people’s schedules and their lifestyles.
In 2012 Novauris also teamed up with Panasonic Corporation (ADR) to develop an innovative speech recognition technology and named it NovaLite. It was to be marketed and sold to manufacturers of consumer electronics so that they could enable their voice based products. The company worked with quite a few manufacturers and carrier partners like Verizon Communications including Apple’s biggest competitor, Samsung Electronics.
The Cupertino California based company has made quite a progress with 15 acquisitions in its last fiscal year, compared to five deals in the previous year. Apple spent $525 million buying other companies in its last quarter, almost double than what it spent previous year .
Besides Novauris, Apple also acquired PrimeSense Ltd., the maker of motion-tracking chip technology; Topsy Labs Inc., a data-analytics company; and Broadmap, a mapping software company.